There is a paradox surrounding the latter phase of Lord Liverpool’s administration: that in its years of greatest outward strength, and of constructive achievement in domestic politics, alarming symptoms were also manifested of acute internal stress. Peel’s appointment as Home Secretary was part of a general revitalisation of the government front-bench in the House of Commons, in 1822–3, which included Canning’s accession to the Foreign Office, the promotions of Frederick Robinson and William Huskisson to be Chancellor of the Exchequer and President of the Board of Trade respectively, and the sidelining of the politically redundant Sidmouth connection.1 These changes certainly augmented the government’s debating power in the lower House, although the main reason why ministers appeared in an increasingly favourable public light was that the economy had finally recovered from the appalling depression of the immediate post-war years. The 1820s, taken as a whole, were a period of economic growth and comparative social calm, which saw a dramatic decline in popular agitation for radical parliamentary reform. In these auspicious conditions, most of the earlier repressive legislation was allowed to lapse, and it seemed permissible for ministers to adopt a more relaxed approach to policy than would previously have been considered safe.
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- The Crisis in Church and State
T. A. Jenkins
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